Action Toys' Blackbird Robo and Mixer Robo - Masterpiece Snoop and Blockhead
How do you follow up a wave that had two marquee bots (if you’re in the west) in Cy-Kill and Leader-1, a solid entry who not too many knew until you showed them a picture (then it was often “Oooooh…that guy!”) in Tank and a marquee bot if you’re in the east but otherwise a bit player in Screwhead (or Rod Drill)? [Honestly, there’s a way to work that out in your brain. See, even in GoBots, he was always Rod Drill…but either no one on the Renegades liked him or he was viewed as a screw up, so they always called him Screwhead. Also of note, Bruce Campbell was in charge of naming Renegades…little known fact. – Ed.] Well, if you’re Action Toys, you follow up with Snoop and Blockhead as a half-wave. And there was a resounding…meh. That might be an American thing though as neither of these two played much of a role in GoBots lore. [There is such a thing? – Ed.] Prejudices aside…let’s take a look at what this new pair adds to the Machine Robo ranks.
Blackbird Robo or Snoop as she was known in GoBots is, obviously, an SR-71 Blackbird. The alt mode looks a bit panel-ly and isn't nearly as polished as Eagle Robo’s jet mode. This doesn’t necessarily detract from the toy as there’s not really any deal-breaking aspect of the jet mode but given the already bland feeling that this wave elicited from me in the character selection, this really didn’t offer any evidence to the contrary of this wave kind of being a ‘sophomore slump’…so to speak. Transformation between modes is both simple yet fiddly as most of the previous releases have been. On my copy, getting the arms to lock into place while still getting the engine and wing assembly all to properly line up continues to feel like it requires a fair degree of force and just a little bit of luck. To defend the engineering and the continued use of die-cast parts, at no point in using said force do I ever feel like I’m going to break it…so that’s awesome. Once we get into robot mode…Snoop is…well…a little short for a Stormtrooper, proving to be one of the shortest in the line thus far. Yeah, I know, I didn’t take a picture of it, but she’s about as tall as Cy-Kill and Rod Drill. In some ways I’m okay with that as we start to see some scale consistency come to the line…but ultimately it comes as a disappointment because I was hoping for her to be more of a Leader-1 size thus keeping the already established scale of land-based bots being generally shorter and jets or air-based bots being generally larger. Still, if scale doesn’t bother me with Transformers…it shouldn’t here either. I guess my main point being is that as things go right now, Leader-1 still seems more of an outlier when compared to the other releases. Moving on, Snoop’s robot mode continues the trend in offering old GoBots toys a serious upgrade in the articulation department all the while maintaining the classic aesthetic…so a continued big thumbs up there.
Switching over to Blockhead…or Mixer Robo…it turns out that much of what I said about Snoop can apply here as well; the aesthetic and articulation continue to be good (although Blockhead is slightly more limited given how he transforms) and the transformation is simple yet fiddly. I will say though that during the conversion from mixer to robot, there are a few neat folds and such as well as the incorporation of the mixing drum that offer some pretty cool tricks. Height-wise, Blockhead ends up falling into the more mid-sized bots which, up to this point, had been population - Tank…so it’s cool he ends up getting some company. Truth be told, the only minor complaint I have with the figure is that the knives-as-smokestacks really end up standing out to me and can shatter the illusion. While I’m certainly no engineer, I think it would’ve been best if there had been some way to sheathe the knives is such a way where the handles could still serve as smokestacks…because that works…yet have the blades concealed. It’s a minor issue though.
These two figures continue the fine tradition of including display stands as the previous wave had before it…although now I’m at a point where I really have no idea on how to configure them in a way that looks cool. Guess it’s true that you can have too much of a good thing!
To wrap this all up, Snoop and Blockhead serve to be solid entries into this nacent line, maintaining the quality of the first entries and not making any steps backward. While I understand that staggering out the big names in any toyline helps to better foster longevity…keeping customers coming back for more…the lack of a big name here, for me anyway, does kind of hurt a bit. It’s this one-two punch of good, but not great, figures and not much in the way of star power that ends up making this wave good…but just a little underwhelming. That being said, in their defense I will say that this line continues to offer a refreshing alternative to increasingly repetitive transformations that seem to be becoming more and more commonplace in mainline Transformers...not to mention a fresh aesthetic too. Given the prices associated with these figures, while I’d certainly recommend them, well…I wouldn’t be as enthusiastic about this wave the way I was with wave 1 (as I’m sure you can tell). If you’re a completionist, yeah, you either already have these or are getting ready to order them. But if you’re not and you’re just cherry-picking the big stars, unless you have a passion for the SR-71 or for cement mixers, you’re better off waiting until the next wave when Turbo is due up. (I’d include Spay-C, the other figure in the wave, but she’s a big one for me because it was the first GoBot I ever got…which doesn’t make her a universally recognized character.)